There may not be a place with a much bigger disconnect when it comes to how followers give it some thought and the way NFL groups strategy it within the draft than running again. Because of fantasy soccer and normal workload, many nonetheless view RB as a glamour place, however fewer RBs are going early in drafts. The 2021 NFL Draft figures to comply with that sample, as there is perhaps only one or two backs taken within the first spherical (Najee Harris, Travis Etienne) — if there are any in any respect.
Of course, simply because there aren’t many backs taken in the course of the draft’s opening night time doesn’t suggest there will not be a number of affect RBs chosen in 2021. Running again has confirmed to be a place at which you will discover worth within the center and late rounds, and rookies of any stature could make quick impacts.
With that in thoughts, let’s take a more in-depth take a look at Sporting News’ top-10 RBs for the 2021 NFL Draft.
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NFL Draft 2021 running again rankings
1. Najee Harris, Alabama
Harris averaged 6.0 yards per carry throughout his four-year profession at Alabama, and he actually shined throughout his senior season, posting 1,891 complete yards (1,466 speeding, 425 speeding) and 30 complete TDs on 294 touches. At 6-2, 230 kilos, Harris is considerably harking back to Derrick Henry, and whereas he lacks Henry’s elite power-running capability, he far exceeds the previous ‘Bama again in receiving capability. Harris may not get drafted till the late first spherical, however he has the potential to be a three-down star.
2. Travis Etienne, Clemson
Etienne took a step again as a runner throughout his closing yr at Clemson, going from 107.6 speeding yards per recreation and seven.8 yards per carry as a junior (and even barely higher numbers as a sophomore) to 76.2 yards per got here and 5.4 yards per carry as a senior. However, he improved as a pass-catcher, hauling in 48 passes for 588 yards in simply 12 video games. That versatility will play properly within the NFL, as will his 4.45 40-yard sprint time. At 5-10, 215 kilos, Etienne is sufficiently big to survive as an every-down again and can doubtless begin or see a distinguished time-share position even when he is not drafted within the first spherical.
3. Javonte Williams, North Carolina
Williams steadily improved throughout his three-year profession at UNC, posting 1,140 speeding yards (7.3 yards per carry), 19 speeding TDs, 305 receiving yards, and three receiving TDs throughout his closing season. At almost 5-10, 212 kilos, Williams ran a 4.55 40-yard sprint at his professional day, and the remainder of his velocity, energy, and agility numbers have been properly above common. He operated in a timeshare with Michael Carter whereas at UNC, so Williams should not have an issue adapting to that position within the NFL. As a probable second-round decide, Williams is the kind of energy again who ought to make waves early in his profession.
4. Michael Carter, North Carolina
Carter had remarkably comparable stats to his teammate Williams throughout his closing season at UNC, placing up 1,245 speeding yards (8.0 yards per carry), 9 speeding TDs, 267 receiving yards, and two receiving TDs. The distinction between the 2 is a pair inches in top and about 20 kilos, which is why Carter figures to be extra of a “change-of-pace” again within the NFL. Even although he does not determine to see the lion’s share of the backfield touches wherever he winds up as a rookie, Carter has loads of upside and might be a worthwhile contributor thanks to his shiftiness and 4.5 velocity.
5. Kenneth Gainwell, Memphis
Gainwell performed just one full season at Memphis (2019), however he impressed with 1,459 speeding yards (6.3 yards per carry), 13 speeding TDs, 51 receptions, 610 receiving yards, and three receiving TDs. Despite being undersized in faculty (5-11, 191 kilos), it has been reported Gainwell is up to round 200 kilos and ran a 4.42 40-yard sprint. It would not be shocking to see him leap a number of the different backs on this record and get drafted within the second or third spherical. Either approach, he clearly has the flexibility offensive coordinators crave, and if he goes to the correct workforce, he needs to be a dynamic participant.
6. Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State
An ankle harm restricted Hubbard in 2020, however he led the nation in speeding in ’19, posting 2,094 yards (6.5 yards per carry) and 21 TDs. Hubbard has good dimension (6-0, 210 kilos) and velocity (4.48 40-yard sprint), and he is clearly proven a capability to produce with a heavy workload. He may not go till Day 3 contemplating he by no means confirmed a lot as a receiver in faculty, but it surely would not be a shock to see him beginning sooner or later this season.
7. Kylin Hill, Mississippi State
Hill performed simply three video games for Mississippi State in 2020, however he impressed the season earlier than, totaling 1,350 speeding yards (5.6 yards per carry) and 10 TDs. The 5-11, 214-pounder ran a 4.51 40-yard sprint and confirmed spectacular energy at his professional day. He’s the kind of late-round decide who has upside and will excel in the correct system, however he doubtless will not be an affect participant early within the 2021 season.
8. Rhamondre Stevenson, Oklahoma
A failed drug check price Stevenson half of final season, however he excelled within the six video games he performed, speeding for 665 yards and 7 TDs and including one other 211 yards by the air. The 6-foot, 230-pound bruiser is not notably quick (4.63 40), however his capability to catch the ball out of the backfield provides him extra versatility than you may anticipate. That general package deal makes Stevenson an intriguing prospect who might shock this yr.
9. Jaret Patterson, Buffalo
Patterson was a high-level producer in his three-year profession, running for 1,799 yards (5.8 yards per carry) and 19 TDs in 13 video games in 2019 and an much more spectacular 1,072 yards (7.6 yards per carry) and 19 TDs in simply six video games in ’20. That included a 409-yard, eight-TD recreation towards Kent State. Patterson’s dimension is a matter, as he measured in shorter than 5-7 and simply 195 kilos. His 4.52 40-yard-dash time was respectable, however clearly he’ll have to overcome issues about his dimension to get an opportunity at common taking part in time. He may very well be a dynamic change-of-pace again in the correct offense, although.
10. Trey Sermon, Ohio State
Sermon showcased his expertise throughout his first three years at Oklahoma, however he shined throughout his senior season at Ohio State. Specifically, he actually stood out throughout his closing two video games (not counting the National Championship recreation during which he obtained injured on the primary sequence), speeding 60 occasions for 524 yards and three scores towards Northwestern within the Big 10 Championship recreation and Clemson within the Sugar Bowl. The 6-3, 215-pound Sermon ran a 4.57 40-yard sprint, which exhibits he has respectable velocity for his dimension. There’s potential right here for the doubtless late-round decide.